Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ancient Crucifixion Symbols

Crucifixion images abound today—from sculptures and icons in churches to the masterful paintings hanging in museums. But how many of these actually give us a realistic idea of what Jesus’ crucifixion looked like? Do these artistic crucifixion images accurately reflect ancient Roman crucifixion methods?
This second-century graffito of a Roman crucifixion from Puteoli, Italy, is one of a few ancient crucifixion images that offer a first-hand glimpse of Roman crucifixion methods and what Jesus’ crucifixion may have looked like to a bystander.

In the March/April 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Biblical scholar Ben Witherington addresses these questions by looking at some of the earliest archaeological evidence of crucifixion and imagery roughly contemporary with Jesus’ crucifixion. Witherington discusses three crucifixion images—two wall graffiti and a magical amulet—from the first centuries of the Christian era.

The two graffiti were both discovered in Italy—one, the so called Alexamenos graffito, on the Palatine Hill in Rome and the other  in Puteoli during an excavation. Both show a crucified figure on a cross and date to sometime between the late first and mid-third centuries A.D. Likewise, a striking red gemstone bears a crucified figure surrounded by a magical inscription.

To read more about ancient crucifixion images and what they can tell us about Roman crucifixion methods and Jesus’ crucifixion, see Ben Witherington III, Biblical Views: “Images of Crucifixion: Fresh Evidence” in the March/April 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What does the Bible say about Astral Projection?

Question: "What does the Bible say about an out of body experience / astral projection?"

Information about the "out-of-body” experience is both vast and subjective. According to Wikipedia, one out of ten people claims to have had an out-of-body experience (OBE), and there are many different types of the experiences claimed. They range from involuntary out-of-body experiences or near-death experiences that happen after or during a trauma or accident, to what is called “astral projection" in which a person voluntarily tries to leave his/her body behind and ascend to a spiritual plane where he/she believes he/she will find truth and clarity.

A few famous Christians have had what might be called, in today’s world, an out-of-body experience, most notably the Apostle Paul. He says in2 Corinthians 12:1-4, "I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." In the verses preceding this passage, Paul lists his "boasts" or the things that, if he were counting on works and good deeds to secure his salvation, would get him into heaven. Though he seems to be referring to a third party, scholars agree that he is speaking of himself in the third person. Therefore, he is including this apparent out-of-body experience in his list of boasts. The point he is making is that any revelation that comes from outside the Bible (extra-biblical revelation) is not a reliable source, and as Paul says, "There is nothing to be gained by it." This does not mean that his out-of-body experience wasn't real, only that he is not relying on it to give him truth or really to benefit himself or other people in any way.

An involuntary out-of-body experience or a near-death experience, like the Apostle Paul's, should be treated in the same way as a dream in the life of a Christian—an unexplained phenomenon that may make a good story, but does not give us truth. The only place we find absolute truth is in the Word of God. All other sources are merely subjective human accounts or interpretations based on what we can discover with our finite minds. The book of Revelation, or John's vision, is an exception to this, as are the prophecies or visions of the Old Testament prophets. In each of those cases, the prophets were told that this was a revelation from the Lord, and they should share what they had seen because it was directly from the mouth of God.

A voluntary out-of-body experience, or an “astral projection,” is a different story. A person trying to achieve an out-of-body experience in order to connect with spirits or the spirit world is practicing the occult. There are two forms of this. The first is called the “phasing” model, in which the person tries to find new spiritual truth by accessing a part of the mind that is "shut off" during everyday life. This practice is connected to Buddhism or postmodernism and the belief that enlightenment is achieved from looking within oneself. The other form, called the “mystical” model, is when the person tries to exit the body entirely, his/her spirit traveling to another plane that is not connected to the physical world at all.

The Bible explicitly warns against occult practice, or sorcery, inGalatians 5:19-20, saying that those who practice it will not inherit God's kingdom. God's commands are always for our good, and He commands us to stay far away from occult practices because there is great potential, when trying to access the spiritual world, of opening oneself up to demons who can tell us lies about God and confuse our minds. InJob 4:12-21, Eliphaz describes being visited by a lying spirit in a vision that tells him God does not regard humans and that He doesn't care for us, which is false! The phasing model is also futile, according to Scripture.Jeremiah 17:9says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?" and1 Corinthians 2:1-5says, "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." It is futile to search for infinite wisdom inside the finite mind of man.

One concrete example of this comes from the popular book90 Minutes in Heavenby Pastor Don Piper. Piper describes what is, in essence, an out-of-body experience he had after a severe car accident, during which he believes he died and went to heaven for ninety minutes. Whether or not Piper did actually see heaven or spend time there is debatable, and in the end nobody but God knows. However, there is a serious problem, theologically speaking, with the conclusion Pastor Piper draws from his experience. He tells the reader that, now that he has "been to heaven," he can speak comfort to grieving people at funerals "with more authority" than he could previously. Piper's motives are correct: he wants to give people hope. However, it is dead wrong to say that his own subjective experience will give him more authority to administer the hope of heaven than the perfect truth of Scripture would do.

In conclusion, whatever sort of out-of-body experience we are talking about, the main point to remember is that an out-of-body experience will give us neither truth nor knowledge. If an involuntary out-of-body experience occurs in the life of a Christian, the best approach would be to consider it in the same category as a dream—interesting, perhaps, but not a source of truth. Christians are to find truth only in the words of God, as Jesus prays inJohn 17:17, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."
Recommended Resources:The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, and Psychic Phenomena by Ron RhodesandLogos Bible Software.
While he is not the author of every article on, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why don't catholics eat meat on Fridays during Lent?

Question: "Why can’t Catholics eat meat on Fridays during Lent?"

Catholics practice various acts of penitence and spiritual self-discipline during Lent, the (approximately) forty days leading up to Easter. One of those disciplines is a fast that requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. The rule is based on the authority of the Church, not on the authority of Scripture.

Centuries ago, the Catholic Church had a law that forbade consuming meat on all Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Later, this rule was relaxed to remove meat from the diet on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays. In 1966, Catholic bishops in America, with the blessing of Pope Paul VI, further relaxed the rule. Nowadays meat is only prohibited on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Fridays of the Lenten season. Catholics are obligated to observe this fast as a minimum; they can make up stricter requirements for themselves, if they so desire.

The stated reason for abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent is to remind the faithful that Jesus died on a Friday. Jesus gave up His body (His flesh), and Catholics, in an effort to attain greater communion with Christ, refrain from consuming flesh.

Why is fish allowed? The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states that fish are a different category of animal. So it’s only the meat of warm-blooded animals that is prohibited. Eggs, butter, and milk are allowed.

There is nothing in the Bible that remotely suggests that Christians must follow a predetermined fast. Abstaining from meat during Lent is simply a man-made ritual of the Catholic Church. It has no inherent spiritual value and cannot guarantee that a person draws closer to Christ. While fasting can be beneficial, it is good to remember Jesus’ words, “What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them” (Matthew 15:11).

Recommended Resources:The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing meat on Fridays and The Word of God by James McCarthyandLogos Bible Software.

While he is not the author of every article on, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Who was King Solomon?


King Solomon
King Solomon
King Solomon has fascinated historians, scholars and treasure hunters for centuries.
Some have been drawn to his poetry, others to his tales of wisdom - and many to the tales of his phenomenal wealth.
Although the only accounts of him come from the Bible, many historians believe he was a real and immensely powerful figure.
The son of King David - of the David and Goliath story - and Queen Bathsheba, he was the third King of Israel and ruled for 40 years, between 965BC and 925BC.
During his reign, Israel was at the heart of a prosperous and stable empire.
He rebuilt Jerusalem, creating magnificent palaces and fortresses, and also built the first temple to store the Ark of the Covenant.
His life was extravagant. The Book of Kings reveals he had 700 wives, including the daughter of a pharoah and 300 concubines. 
The Old Testament also reveals how he was visited by the Queen of Sheba, who was so impressed by his wealth that she arrived on camel with spices, gifts and tons of gold.
According to Bible, he was a prolific writer, composing 1,005 songs and 3,000 proverbs.
Many are still in use, with the expression 'pride comes before a fall' based on one of his sayings.
According to biblical text, the Ark holds the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God. This image (ca. 1725-1727) shows the Ark of the Covenant and is by Giovanni Battista Pittoni
According to biblical text, the Ark holds the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God. This image (ca. 1725-1727) shows the Ark of the Covenant and is by Giovanni Battista Pittoni
Indiana Jones, right, carries away the glistening Ark of the Covenant in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark by Steven Spielberg
Indiana Jones, right, carries away the glistening Ark of the Covenant in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark by Steven Spielberg
The Copper Scroll, which dates back around 1,900 years, shows several ‘striking parallels’ with the newly translated treatise, Professor Davila said.
The treatise says that the treasures from Solomon's Temple were recorded ‘on a tablet of bronze,’ a metal like the Copper Scroll.
The Copper scroll also discusses the location of hidden treasure, although not from Solomon's Temple. Professor Davila said this might reveal a tradition of inscribing lists of treasures on metal.
The oldest confirmed example of the treatise, which survives to present day, is from a book published in Amsterdam in 1648 called ‘Emek Halachah.’
However, Professor Davila is the first to translate the text into English.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Aliens Exist, and We Should Avoid Them At All Costs, Says Stephen Hawking

By Rebecca Boyle

Hawking: Aliens Are Out There The venerable British scientist, seen here in 2008, believes aliens are out there, and we should avoid them like the plague.
Stephen Hawking believes we should fear aliens, which would probably come to Earth in search of resources and bent on our destruction.

The venerated cosmologist says in a new Discovery Channel series that he thinks aliens exist, but we should do everything we can to avoid meeting them. Any life intelligent enough to find us would probably be seeking resources, he says. And that would likely be bad news for humans.

"We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet," he says.

Among billions of galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars, Earth is probably not the only place where life evolved, he says. To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational," he said. "The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."

The documentary offers several possibilities, including herds of two-legged herbivores grazing on an alien cliff-face where they are picked off by flying lizard predators, reports The Times of London. Another clip shows fluorescent aquatic animals forming vast shoals in the oceans of Europa.

Hawking, 68, spent three years working on the documentary, which highlights his thinking about several topics, the Times reported.

He's previously spoken in favor of human colonization of other planets, arguing it would ensure the human race would survive nuclear war or asteroid collisions that could make Earth uninhabitable. But he says aliens with the same motivations would probably not be trustworthy.

"If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans," Hawking says. (The Times online)
...................................................................................................................................................................OK, I just want to say this about that.  I believe IF aliens do come to Earth, they will be from another dimension not another planet.  I agree with Hawking that we would want to stay clear, because they will be demons and will have bad intent!  Maybe they are already here and have been all along, we just can't see them.  But... maybe in the end times the veil will be lifted and we WILL see them.  I don't know, but  as much as we have been 'conditioned' to believe in aliens, I think it will be something.  Something nefarious no doubt..

Monday, April 7, 2014

Alien deception.. Part of the End Times?

 "Could an alien deception be part of the end times?"We know that the events surrounding the end times, as described in the Bible, will include a powerful deception (Matthew 24:24). Recently, interest has been rising in the theory that this deception will include alien beings from another planet. Odd as it may seem, this theory is entirely plausible from a Christian perspective. Although the Bible gives us no word about whether or not aliens exist—there is no inclusion of them in the creation account in Genesis, and no mention of them elsewhere—the Bible does tell us about visitors from another world—the spiritual world.

Since the beginning, instances of demons (fallen angels) visiting the earth have been witnessed and recorded. We know from Eve’s encounter with Satan that demons are interested in monitoring (and altering) the progress of humanity. They want to be involved, with the goal of drawing humanity away from the worship of God and turning mankind’s attention instead to them. Another notable instance of their interaction with us is found inGenesis 6:4with the arrival of the "sons of God." The Genesis account states that these powerful beings had sexual intercourse with women and produced a super race of beings known as the Nephilim. This sounds like the stuff of science fiction, yet it is right there in the Bible. There are striking similarities between this account and the accounts of other ancient cultures. The writings of the ancient Sumerians, for example (who were the first to produce a written language) mention the presence of the “Anunnaki” who were deities that came from heaven to dwell on earth with men. It is also interesting to note that the Sumerians’ gods often came to them in the form of snakes.

These accounts, seen alongside the amazing things created by ancient man, make it possible to theorize that demons, in the form of beings from another world, came to earth, bringing spectacular wisdom and knowledge to men, and “intermarrying” with their daughters in an attempt to draw men away from God. We already see from Eve’s experience with the serpent that demons will use the temptation of superior wisdom to ensnare man and that man is very susceptible to it.

Could the end times include a similar alien deception? The Bible doesn’t directly address the issue, but it is certainly plausible, for a variety of reasons. First, the Bible tells us that the world will unite under the power of the Antichrist. In order to achieve an agreement between all the world’s religions, it would make sense for the “uniter” to come from an entirely new source—an extraterrestrial source. It is hard to imagine one religion becoming head of all the others, unless new, unearthly knowledge were the source of the appeal and power of the new “religion.” This would be in keeping with past deceptions and would be a very effective way to deceive a large number of people.


 "Is God a cosmic killjoy?"Sometimes we may imagine God as a task master, a dictator opposed to fun or pleasure. We may envision Him as a grimacing judge with a gavel, readily pointing out faults and stifling any sense of joy we have. We might see God as a cosmic killjoy. What a sad—and unbiblical—picture of God! A cold, disagreeable sourpuss is not the God of the Bible. When we study Scripture and come to understand God’s character, we see that He is not in any sense a cosmic killjoy. In fact, He is the one who restores us and gives us true joy. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

About the movie 'Noah'

Oh this woman is going to Hell

Miami woman charged with role in animal torture sex fetish porn video


A Miami woman took fetish pornography to a disturbing extreme, police say — repeatedly decapitating live chickens and killing rabbits while engaging in sex acts during the filming of an animal torture video.
Sara Zamora, 28, was arrested Friday on eight felony counts of animal cruelty for her feature role in a video called “SOS Barn” that a Miami-Dade police arrest report described in gory, stomach-turning detail.
“The chicken is enduring extreme pain and suffering during this process,” according to the arrest report.
The video clips — filmed for a twisted animal torture genre called “crush” — depicted her and other porn actresses “torturing and killing a wide variety of animals, including chickens, rabbits and more for the sexual gratification of its viewers,” according to police.

As it was in the days of Noah...

Genesis 6 gives the sad account of the state of humanity prior to the  flood during the days of Noah.Genesis 6:5 states, “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” The level of sin and corruption among the human population was staggering: people thought about doing evil “all the time.” For the strong and healthy individual, an evil lifestyle would have ramifications evidenced by disease and death.

In addition, “The sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose” (Genesis 6:2). In the Hebrew language, these “sons of God” were “bene elohim.” This term is usually applied to angels (see Job 1:6). Genesis seems to be stating that, somehow, there was a physical union between angels and human women. The unnatural offspring of this union were the “Nephilim” (Genesis 6:4).

The word nephilim is directly transliterated from the Hebrew. The ancient root of the word implies a “fall.” Whatever the word actually means (in some versions of the Bible it is translated as “giants”), Scripture describes the Nephilim as “the heroes of old, men of renown.” Some theologians believe that God could simply not allow this corrupt offspring to exist on the earth, and that was part of the reason for the flood, and that is EXACTLY what I think! What can be understood without question is that the world that was then, the world of Noah, was incredibly corrupt and perverted.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice


Do brain connections help shape religious beliefs?

Building on previous evidence showing that religious belief involves cognitive activity that can be mapped to specific brain regions, a new study has found that causal, directional connections between these brain networks can be linked to differences in religious thought.  The article "Brain Networks Shaping Religious Belief" is published in Brain Connectivity.

Are there brain networks uniquely devoted to religious belief?

Prior research has indicate the answer is a resolute no, says Jordan Grafman, director, Brain Injury Research and Chief, Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

The House of the Righteous Will Stand

 Proverbs 12:7

(7) The wicked are overthrown and are no more, But the house of the righteous will stand. This  is at the end of a short section, beginning in verse 5, it shows the progression of  sinful people in contrast to those who fear God.

How fast?

Life is Beautiful

Stigmata, what is it?

Well, it's baloney, of course.

Stigmata are the appearance of the wounds of Jesus Christ on a person’s body. Some stigmata include representations of the wounds on Christ's back caused by the scourging and/or the head wounds caused by the crown of thorns. But traditionally stigmata consist of five classic points: the side (where Jesus was pierced with the spear to confirm that He was dead), and both hands and both feet (the wounds caused by the nails of the crucifixion).

Several individuals in church history have claimed to have miraculously received stigmata. However, there are serious challenges to the legitimacy of these supposed appearances. Many have been proven to have been self-inflicted in an attempt to fake miraculous stigmata. The Bible nowhere instructs anyone to get stigmata or states that God will give stigmata. In Galatians 6:17, Paul states, "...for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." This does not mean Paul literally had the scars of crucifixion. Rather, it indicates that Paul's body was scarred due to his commitment to follow Christ. Jesus suffered the wounds so we would not have to. The wounds of crucifixion being miraculously inflicted on the body of a believer contradicts the fact that "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

What is the Book of Judith?


Well,  it's Catholic, of course!  The Book of Judith is part of the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical scripture and appears in the Old Testament of Catholic Bibles. The nation of Israel treated the Apocryphal books with respect, but never accepted them as true books of the Hebrew Bible. The early Christian church debated the status of them, but not too many early Christians believed they belonged in the canon of Scripture.
The Book of Judith, believed to be written in the late second century or early first century B.C., recounts the story of God providing a woman, Judith, to deliver the Jewish people in a time of great need and despair. In the story Judith lives in the town of Bethulia. She is a beautiful and wise widow who becomes incensed with her town elders when they “test” God rather than trust Him and they decide to capitulate to King Nebuchadnezzar’s top general, Holofernes, to surrender if God does not save them in five days.
Judith feels that giving God such a deadline is arrogant and inappropriate in the extreme. She tells the elders she has a plan, but must leave the city for it to be successful. She refuses to tell any details, leaves with her slave woman, and goes to  Holofernes’s camp pretending she is providing him help to defeat her fellow Jews.
Holofernes is caught up by her beauty and takes her into his camp and company. Her voluptuousness and wiles attract him, and lust blinds him to her deceit. Judith manages to get Holofernes alone in his tent when he is excessively drunk. (funny how often this happens back in the day)  When he passes out, she beheads him, steals back to Bethulia, displays the result of her intrigue, and becomes the town’s heroine.
They think this book was first written in Hebrew, but it's not for sure.
Like other books in the Apocrypha, there are things that are a bit off, like the claim that Nebuchadnezzar ruled over the Assyrian Empire from Nineveh. He actually ruled over Babylonia. Plus, Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar, had destroyed Nineveh years earlier, making this story’s history suspect. A lot of people view this account as a variation of the Exodus story, where faith in God and reliance on Him for deliverance from fear and protection from harm and evil is what believers must always do.
Resources: The Canon of Scripture by F.F. Bruce and Logos Bible Software.